Mid-summer 2011 saw a real treat for Cheap Trick’s loyal fans in Europe, with a surprise but very welcome return across the Pond only 7 months after the four amazing British shows in November 2010. And not only would they be back in Europe, but they’d also be playing in 5 other countries apart from the UK (a bonus for those fans living in mainland Europe). As usual, I studied dates and made plans and was very happy to be able to make the first 5 of the 8 show tour. A busy 10 days were arranged, flights and hotels booked, tickets bought and other arrangements made, and then it was just an eager wait for the second week in June to come around.
My tour turned out to
be even busier (and longer) than I’d anticipated, but you’ll find out why later.
But for now, let’s start at the beginning and go back to the second week of
June. [It might help to have some European alcohol of your choice to hand (beer
or wine or spirits) just to help you get into the Euro tour mood! Me, I’ll have
a couple of Heinekens, with maybe a schnapps chaser! ]
Fri 10 June - Leeds, England
Well, the tour actually
starts tomorrow, but for me it started today, sort of. I picked up my
girlfriend Patricia at Leeds/Bradford Airport at about 9am, as she arrived from
traveling overnight from Chicago via Amsterdam. We bought some Euro currency in
Leeds, plus sorted out packing for two “mini-trips” in the coming days. We’d
first be going to the Download and Bristol shows, before a brief stop back at my
house on Monday before heading off to Dublin. Preparation today saves time
tomorrow and Monday! Surprisingly for an English summer, today was dry and mild.
But I had no doubt we’d see rain before the week was out.
Sat 11 June - Cheap Trick at Download Festival, Castle Donington, England
Show day #1, and I’d had a pretty sleepless night. However, I didn’t feel too tired, and after an early lunch we left my house early in the afternoon for the 85 mile drive down to Castle Donington. The drive took 1 ¾ hours, and took us past East Midlands Airport before we reached the vast parking fields for the Download Festival. This annual event used to be “Monsters of Rock”, and graced by the likes of AC/DC, Aerosmith, Whitesnake and Iron Maiden, before taking a long break and coming back as a wider reaching and multi-stage festival.
After parking amidst a multi-coloured sea of cars and vans, we walked about a mile to reach the main entrance to the open air venue. It was pretty crowded, with an attendance of around 50,000 each day, many of whom stayed at the venue campgrounds for the whole festival. We got in OK at 3pm, and walked into a vast field, with three large outdoor stages, plus at least of couple of smaller tented ones. I felt my age when seeing how young most of the crowd were, but there were plenty of older music fans there too. We took time to wander, seeing the huge, main merchandise stall, plus smaller ones, and many food and shopping concessions too on the perimeter of the sloping field. Happily for us, Stage 2 was on our left as we went in, and was closer than the Main stage at the bottom of the hill. The second stage was large, with a high roof and the obligatory video screens to either side. There was also a large security/media pit in front of the stage, so I feared Rick’s pick showers during “Dream Police” might go to waste.
We watched some of Mr Big, who were onstage before Cheap Trick. They featured a large logo backdrop, and included guitarist Paul Gilbert, who I’d once seen guest with Cheap Trick in Japan back in 1999. They were OK and went down well with the crowd of several thousand standing on the light slope leading back from the stage.
Although it was somewhat cool and some dark clouds had threatened rain, happily it was mostly bright and sunny for Cheap Trick. The audio montage started a couple of minutes late at 6.37pm, with the band coming on at 6.40pm.
RN – black suit,
black/white Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Gonna Raise Hell, Dream Police, California Man, IWYTWM, Sick Man of Europe, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen
The set was short (38 minutes) but high energy with a good selection of uptempo numbers, ideal for a festival setting. The first surprise for me was that they opened with that monster, “Gonna Raise Hell”, which was a heck of a bar to set for the rest of the set. It went down well with the healthy sized crowd watching, possibly 6-7,000? Rick’s chat was kept to a minimum as the band sought to utilize their limited stage time as best as possible. GRH was followed by “Dream Police” and then “California Man”. Many of the crowd recognized “Dream Police”, and more recognized “I Want You to Want Me” which was of course the main crowd pleaser. After that, Rick briefly announced “Just in case you’re not sure, we are Cheap Trick… a brand new band from the US, we’re glad to be here”. (During “IWYTWM” I saw that the next song on the setlist, “If You Want My Love” was cut, due to time reasons I heard later.) The set instead continued with “Sick Man of Europe”, “Surrender”, and closed appropriately with “Auf Wiedersehen”. At the end Robin exclaimed “Thank you Donington, goodnight everyone”.
The set finished at 7.18pm, and the band had gone down pretty well in front of a decent sized crowd. One minor disappointment, though there was no practical way around it, was that the band didn’t have their large checkerboard stage backdrop to display. With the stage enclosure being so high, they looked a little lost from a distance with just a big black background behind them. Mr Big used a logo backdrop, as did the next band, second on the bill Twisted Sister. However, given the other venues CT would play on this tour, it probably wasn’t worth the expense of shipping a large and heavy backdrop that might be used only once or twice.
Patricia and I could have left at this point, but we stayed on. Next up was Twisted Sister, and it was vaguely disturbing, though hardly surprising given the festivals heavy rock roots, that Twisted Sister were given such an enthusiastic response. They went down well, playing their hits such as “I Am I’m Me” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. Lots of fist pumping, lots of MF swearing (Dee Snider rivalled Vince Neil for the most swearing frontman I’ve ever heard) and lots of guitar solo’s. Hmmm. We sort of watched from quite a way off to the side, well away from the crowd. Soon after Twisted Sister finished, Pat and I walked back to the stage, against the flow of people heading away. To each side of the stage were long walls, decorated with various advertising posters. “Pleasant” to see these walls well utilised by men as being the nearest “urinal”. Who needs portaloos when you can just pee against a wall in public?
The headliner on Stage 2 was the legendary Alice Cooper, and it was a privilege to have been invited to watch his set from sidestage (many thanks to Cesare Sabatini for that kindness). Alice and his band played a 75 minute set from 9pm, and were very well received by the large crowd. We couldn’t see all the stage props and setup from the side, but it was cool to watch how Alice worked the crowd, and how his technical team worked behind the scenes. Great show, though a little shorter than his regular set.
Alice finished at
10:15pm, though headliners System of a Down was still playing on the main stage.
That meant that we should be able to get out of the parking fields moderately
quickly. We walked the mile back to the car, and indeed got out fairly quickly
(thanks Alice for the shorter set!) We drove about 20 miles south to the Hilton
hotel at Leicester, near the M1 motorway, arriving at 11:30pm. The hotel was OK
but the “extras” were a rip-off - £5 for overnight parking (no choice for that),
£15 for internet access (gee, no thanks) and “reduced” price offer for breakfast
of “only” £10 (US$16)each. Err, we’ll pass on that too thanks. I certainly won’t
ever consider that hotel again. Bed about midnight.
Sun 12 June - Leicester to Bristol, Cheap Trick in Bristol, UK
Second show day today, and as predicted, the rain wasn’t far away. We left the hotel at 8.30am, and stopped maybe 20 minutes later at a motorway service station that offered free Wifi (Hilton, take note). By now it was persistently raining and chilly, so I was thankful the outdoor Download performance had been yesterday. I used the free Wifi to send some pix from the show to CT’s official website. We then drove on down through the rain to beyond Bristol to visit some of my family and have a country pub lunch. Got into Bristol at 3.30pm, parking in the multi-storey car park next to the O2 Academy venue.
The inside of the venue was intimate, with a nice sized stage, and a fairly shallow main floor with a raised bar to the rear. There were stairways with distinctive railing panels to each side of the main floor, going up to a balcony, though this was to be closed for tonight’s show.
The band soundchecked from 5.20pm, playing a bluesy instrumental, before “House is Rockin” (no vox). Rick invite the young singer of the support band Plead the Fifth (actress Jane Seymour’s son) up on stage to vocal “Closer” and he did a good job of that. The PT5 entourage (including Jane) were delighted. Later, “Girlfriends” was played by CT.
I didn’t get to see Plead the Fifth play as I was busy doing other things, so I’m afraid I can’t review them. The familiar audio montage started at 8.58pm and Cheap Trick took to the stage at 9pm.
RN – black suit, multi
coloured Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Just Got Back, California Man, ELO Kiddies, IWYTWM, These Days, He’s a Whore, Looking Out for Number One, Tonight Its You, On Top of the World, Fan Club, House is Rockin’, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Ballad of TV Violence, Baby Loves to Rock, Sick Man of Europe, Closer, Surrender // (encore) Downed, Dream Police, Clock Strikes ten, Goodnight Now
There was a good sized crowd in the venue, and they gave the band a loud and enthusiastic welcome. “Just Got Back” was a nice opener, though it had been over 30 years since they’d last played in this city! That was followed the “California Man”, “ELO Kiddies” and “IWYTWM” – a very high octane opening. After those 4 songs, Rick addressed the crowd “Yeah! Thank you very much. What’s our name? … Welcome to Bristol, Cheap Trick” He then noted fans had come from Germany, France, Bristol, London, USA, Mexico… “This is a great place for the INS! Is it alright if we play some more? We especially wrote this set for you, so if you don’t like it, get lost! This is from The Latest”. The band went into “These Days”, followed by “He’s a Whore”. As Rick later noted, “From our latest to our first”.
The set continued with a nice trio of “Looking Out for Number One”, “Tonight Its You” and then “On Top of the World”. Time for the band to take a short breather, and an unusual one it was as there was a marriage proposal on stage. Lyrics from “I Know What I Want” were read, the surprised bride-to-be said “Yes” and the couple were serenaded off stage by Magic singing a swing version of “Invaders of the Heart”. After they left, Rick noted that the band were available for weddings and bar mitzvah’s!
The show continued, and no songs were lost from the setlist as a result of the short interruption. Appropriately for the couple, “Fan Club” was then played. The tempo picked up again with a storming “House is Rockin” followed by “Never Had a Lot to Lose”. Another breather, with Rick asking “Did I mention we’re called Cheap Trick? Now what do you want to hear?” Various song titles were shouted out, though the set proceeded as per the setlist with the dark “Ballad of TV Violence”, “Baby Loves to Rock”, and the ever-energetic “Sick Man of Europe”. With hardly a pause for breath, the main set went to a close with the haunting “Closer” from “The Latest”, followed by the ever popular “Surrender”. Robin thanked the crowd, adding “We’re Cheap Trick, goodnight everybody”.
As usual, Rick was first back on stage and asked “Does that mean you want to hear some more?” The roar hardly required confirmation, but he added “Are you SURE you want to hear some more?” The bigger roar suggested the crowd indeed wanted an extra song or two. “You can tell we like to play” Rick observed, “If we make mistakes, we mean for them to happen! Of course they never happen!”
The encore swiftly
proceeded with “Downed”, “Dream Police” and its pick showers, “Clock Strikes
Ten” and the show closer “Goodnight Now” which featured 4 endings and the 5 neck
guitar. Rick closed things out, “Thank you, hope to see you next year”. The show
finished at 10:35pm, and it had been a nice, high energy 95 minutes. Outside it
had stopped raining, and we had an hours drive north to spend the night with
family. Got to bed at 1.20am, another late night!
Mon 13 June - Bristol to Dublin, via Leeds & Manchester!
The night of sleep
wasn’t long enough, and we had to be up at 6.30am in order to get away soon
after 8am. We had a 3 hour drive back to Leeds where I had to do a couple of
things, before then traveling on. The morning was cloudy and cool, though
thankfully dry. I took care of business in Leeds before we headed out again at
1.30pm to Manchester Airport. We had a late afternoon flight with Ryanair to
Dublin for the next show of the tour, though thankfully with a couple of nights
off first. The no-frills flight got us to sunny Dublin just before 6pm, and we
got to our small, moderately priced hotel at 7.25pm. It was only a 5 minute walk
from the Olympia Theatre where Wednesdays show would take place. After
checking-in, we took a wander down to the venue, crowded with people going to
see Erasure tonight. Cool to see a large Cheap Trick show poster in the ticket
office adjoining the venue entrance. We took a wander around the lively, cobbled
streets of Temple Bar, and ran into French friends Alain and Julien (Alain’s
sweatshirt with the big, white 6x CT logo made him hard to miss!), with whom we
had a couple of drinks. I had Guinness of course, it would have felt wrong to
drink any other beer in Dublin! We later ran into the Swedes, Nilssen &
Petersson, plus American friends Lisa & Grace. To bed around midnight. So much
for good intentions of an early night!
Tue 14 June - Dublin, no gig
Tuesday was a welcome
day off, and we ended up spending much of the sunny, warm day on a Red Bus tour
& leisurely sightseeing with Scottish friends, Elliot and Diane. That was fun,
visiting the Guinness Storehouse and supping a pint of the black stuff in the
Gravity Bar, which commanded a spectacular 360 degree view across the city. We
also stopped on O’Connell Street with its giant needle, and wandered down Henry
Street and its many shops. Our tour ended in pretty St Stephens Green, with its
lovely ponds and park scenery. A green oasis in the heart of the city, just
yards away from busy Grafton Street. The centre of Dublin isn’t large so it’s
very walkable, and has a nice vibe about it. The north and south sides of the
centre are separated by the River Liffey and its many bridges, most famously the
Ha’Penny Bridge. In the evening we had had drinks and ran into a few more Trick
friends, in for tomorrow nights show. Again, didn’t get to bed until midnight.
Wed 15 June - Cheap Trick in Dublin, Ireland
Another warm and dry day, though it started off overcast. Again we met up with Elliot & Diane and had an Irish breakfast (no, not Guinness and Jamesons!) before being joined by Roger and Mandy for a walk down to Trinity College. Three of us went in to look at the 1200 year old Book of Kells, as well as the magnificent library Long Room, which unfortunately you can’t take photo’s of. Trust me, it was spectacular. We all then walked up to Dublin Castle, where many of the Irish peace talks of the 80’s and 90’s took place.
Pat and I went back to our hotel mid-afternoon to change for the evenings show, and we were at the Olympia Theatre at 4.15pm. The venue was a beautiful old theatre with ornate mouldings/décor to the balconies, sides and ceiling. The stage was wide and deep, and had a slight slope down to stage front. The main floor sloped up to the rear wall and had two static crush barriers across its width. There were no bars to the main floor, both were in separate rooms to the rear. There were two balconies, the top (and steepest) one was closed tonight. There were also two private boxes to each side of the stage at each balcony level. On the walls of the corridors leading to the main floor were fabulous black & white photo’s of artists on stage here, such as Johnny Cash, and on the walls of the stairwells to the private boxes were signed drumheads of acts who had performed on this stage.
Soundcheck started at 5pm, and included “Fan Club”, “Times of Our Lives”, “Looking Out for Number One”, and then Robin performed “You Take Me to the Top” solo.
After that, Patricia and I had a quick Chinese meal in a restaurant pretty much opposite the theatre before going back to the venue. The openers were again “Plead The Fifth”, with Jane Seymour in attendance. Also several video camera’s were filming, whether for PT5 or for CT, I don’t know.
There was a good crowd in by the time the audio montage started at 8.55pm, with the main floor pretty full, and a good crowd in the balcony too. Cheap Trick took to the stage at 8.59pm to a very warm welcome.
RN – black suit, black
& white Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Hello There, California Man, ELO Kiddies, IWYTWM, These Days, Clock Strikes Ten, Looking Out for Number One, Tonight Its You, On Top of the World, Fan Club, House is Rockin’, Ballad of TV Violence, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Baby Loves to Rock, Sick Man of Europe, Closer, Surrender // (encore) Downed, Dream Police, Goodnight Now
The bands first show in Ireland in exactly 10 years to the day (at 99 Vicar Street, Dublin on 15 June 2001) kicked off with “Hello There”, followed by an energetic “California Man”. Rick briefly greeted the crowd, “Yeah! Great to be here in Dublin! Thank you very much for having us!” before the show continued with “ELO Kiddies” and the crowd pleasing “IWYTWM”. Rick gave the band a quick breather by again taking to the mic – “Thank you very much. It’s great to be in Dublin”. He thanked Plead The Fifth, though noted their habit of breaking drumheads (I didn’t see their set so I’ve no detail on that, sorry). He continued “We’re going to play some early stuff, some Budokan stuff… In Color… Latest… This one is from the Latest, here we go”.
The band went into “These Days” followed by “”Clock Strikes Ten”, and looked to be enjoying themselves and reveling in the enthusiastic reaction of the mostly local crowd. After “Looking Out for Number One”, Rick noted the “Fine looking audience this evening”, and also pointed out some of PT5 and their entourage up in one of the balcony boxes – “Up there, Plead The Fifth… the finest MILF choir we’ve ever seen!”. Actually, Jane Seymour was sidestage on Rick’s side, along with her son, the lead singer of PT5.
The show continued in energetic fashion with “Tonight Its You” and “On Top of the World”, before Rick again got friendly with the crowd. Maybe he kissed the Blarney Stone prior to the show! “I’m glad you’re all smiling, there’s nothing scarier than Dubliners with frowns on their faces!” He mentioned that he’d got an e-mail earlier from sometime Dublin resident Joe Elliot, asking “How come you’re in Dublin when we’re (Def Leppard) in Florida?” Rick continued ”WE picked the fun place! … Fine weather, beautiful women…” He noted fans from France, Spain, Italy, America, and Australia, before asking “Is there anyone here from Dublin?” The response was a very big cheer! “You be nice to all these foreigners!” He introduced the next song by saying “This one was written for you, years and years ago. Thank you for coming to see Cheap Trick”. The band then went into “Fan Club”, before a hard hitting run of “House is Rockin”, “Ballad of TV Violence”, “Never Had a Lot to Lose” and “Baby Loves to Rock”. Worth noting (so far on this tour) the absence of ballads such as “The Flame” and “Ghost Town”, in favour of harder hitting and uptempo numbers. Was this a deliberate strategy? I have no idea.
After “Baby Loves to Rock”, Rick introduced the band – “Tom Petersson on 12 string bass! Tom Petersson, the inventor of the 12 string bass guitar! Tom Petersson, my high school pal!” I think it was a safe bet that Tom Petersson was on stage! Rick continued “My favourite lead singer in the whole wide world, Robin Zander! Robin Zander, right here! On keyboards, Magic Cristian. On drums, Daxx Nielsen. My favourite lead singer, Robin Zander!” He introduced the next song as “… rated #2 in England” (NB. by Classic Rock magazine), with the band playing “Sick Man of Europe”.
As the main set drew to a close, the next song was “Closer”. Early on in the song, Rick gestured to PT5’s lead singer who was watching from sidestage to come on and join Cheap Trick. The young man hesistently did so, first joining Rick in some backing vocals, before getting a hug from Robin and being led to the centre mic to sing a verse himself. He then got a hug from Tom before walking off. Jane Seymour looked thrilled sidestage, though the young man looked very serious, I guess he was stunned at what had just happened. That was immediately followed by “Surrender”, at the end of which Robin thanked the crowd, adding “Thanks for coming out to see us tonight, we appreciate it. We’ll see you down the road maybe”.
The crowd called for more, and when he returned to the stage, Rick asked the traditional question “Does that mean you want to hear more? Are you SURE you want us to play some more?” The crowds noisy response left him in no doubt. The encore started with “Downed”, then “Dream Police” and ended with “Goodnight Now” which saw 3 endings. Rick had the last word from the stage, “Thank you Dublin, hope to see you next year”, with the show ending at 10:26pm.
As usual, fans hung
around to discuss the show, and Jane Seymour was in hot demand for photographs
in the front lobby of the venue. We met up with many friends in a nearby bar
(more Guinness!) until we got kicked out around 1:30 am! Back to our hotel
about 1:40am, these late nights were getting to be a habit!
Thur 16 June - Dublin to Leeds
Another bright, dry morning in Dublin, and we really had been lucky with the weather during our visit here. This was my second time in Dublin, and again I had enjoyed it. It’s definitely a good place to visit, if not a little expensive.
Patricia and I left our hotel at 10:20am and soon caught the bus to the airport.
We ran into Roger & Mandy airside in the airport… Roger’s CT logo t-shirt did
make him extra visible to us! We had a quick chat before going our separate ways
to our respective gates. It was raining by the time we took off at 12:48pm,
though it was dry (but cloudy) when we landed at Manchester just 36 minutes
later. We drove back to Leeds, and both had to pack to travel the following day.
The tour was only halfway through for the band, and I was continuing over the
weekend. However, Patricia was flying home to Chicago next day. Got to bed at
the “early” time of 10pm.
Fri 17 June - Travel to Holland & Cheap Trick in Uden, Netherlands
OK, so we got to bed “early” (in comparison to all the previous nights that is!) though we hardly enjoyed a long night of sleep. We had to be up just 5 hours later for a 6.30am flight to Amsterdam. We were lucky that the flight was from Leeds/Bradford and not Manchester, else we’d have enjoyed even less sleep!
We took off from bright and sunny Leeds/Bradford at 6.46am, on my “home” airline, KLM. We landed at dry, overcast Amsterdam Schiphol some 50 minutes later. We were able to spend a couple of hours in KLM’s lounge, courtesy of my Platinum status with the airline. At 11:10am local time (10:10am back in the UK), we said our goodbyes. Pat headed off to the gate for her flight home to Chicago, whilst I passed through Dutch immigration, bought myself a train ticket, and at 11:30am was on a train south to the town of Nijmegen. Another day, another country, another show.
The train journey was pleasant enough, passing by wide canals busy with large barges, and some nice farmland. I reached Nijmegen at 1pm, where is was dry but overcast and with a cool breeze. My host for the next few days, bowler-hatted Jorn (aka “Thick Man of Europe”) was kindly there to meet me. With time in hand, we decided to take a walk into the town centre, ending up in a spacious cobbled “square” with several historic buildings. We ate an al fresco lunch at a café/restaurant in the square, even spotting someone walking by wearing a CT shirt. After lunch Jorn drove us the 25km (about 15 miles) down to the small Dutch town of Uden. It wasn’t hard to find the small, innocuous building that housed the DePul venue, and a handful of fans were hanging about outside when we arrived at 3:50pm. By now it was spitting with rain. One of the fans was James, who’d flown all the way from Melbourne, Australia to attend the shows at Bristol, Dublin and Uden. I really enjoyed talking with him at the various venues, though next time I hope he thinks slightly more carefully about his travel itineraries! Twice he booked to fly out at an insanely early time the morning after a show! Mate, give yourself a lie in next morning, eh? <LOL> As well as James, it was a pleasure to meet many old, familiar friends, as well as a number of Dutch fans with whom I’d only corresponded. Of particular mention was Niels, who very kindly gave me a wonderful CT related gift (thank you again!)
The venue was small and intimate, with a capacity of only 650. It had a small, tight stage, so the crew could only set up a cut-down backline, and there was barely any sidestage space for the techs. The main floor was triangular, with a small, two sided balcony (closed for tonight’s show). There was a bar and merch area in the adjoining room, through which people entered and exited. The band were due on later than at previous shows, so soundcheck was carried out by the crew. Doors opened at 7.30pm, and a local band came on at 8.35pm.
The audio montage for Cheap Trick started at 9.38pm, with the band coming on 3 minutes later.
RN – black suit, black
& white Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Way of the World, Hot Love, He’s a Whore, IYWML, IWYTWM, These Days, She’s Tight, High Roller, (TP bass solo intro to…) Auf Wiedersehen, Need Your Love, House is Rockin’, Sick Man of Europe, Closer, Surrender // (encore) Taxman Mr Thief, Voices, Dream Police, Goodnight Now
A nice start to the show with the strong triplet of “Way of the World”, “Hot Love” and “He’s a Whore”. The main floor was pretty crowded and with barely any gap to the stage, so there was a very intimate, energetic atmosphere, plus it got pretty hot very quickly (I believe the air conditioning was out of action). Ah well, isn’t that the best kind of gig – small, intimate, crowded, hot and sweaty? Oh, and loud too! After the first 3 songs, Rick spoke, “Thank you… just in case you’re not sure, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes Cheap Trick! It’s nice to be back in the Netherlands, thank you very much. If you know this one… it’s from one of the greatest movies of all time. If you know it, sing along. It’s from that great, great movie, Joe Dirt”. Of course that was the lead in to “If You Want My Love”, which was followed by “IWYTWM” which worked the crowd up even more!
This was the bands first show in Holland since a Festival appearance in nearby Weert in July 2004, and the crowd was really making the most of their return. After “IWYTWM”, Rick again addressed the audience, asking for requests. Of course he got a barrage of titles shouted back at him. He replied” Here’s all those songs” and played one quick sliding chord! He added “This is from The Latest, it’s called… I don’t remember”. It was actually “These Days”, followed by the ever popular “She’s Tight”. Rick then noted people from different places, including “… Italy – love your spaghetti!” and “…Australia – I guess drunk at the pub as usual!” before noting “… and people from Holland!” which brought a big cheer.
The show continued with “High Roller”, then a long Tom bass intro which led into “Auf Wiedersehen”, followed by a monster “Need Your Love”. Actually, I needed a cold air machine! Rick then introduced Magic, Daxx, Tom and Robin, before adding “… and who gives a fuck who *I* am?!!” The hot, hot evening continued at high tempo, with “House is Rockin”, “Sick Man of Europe”, “Closer” and “Surrender”. The band deserved a short break and cool down, Robin closing the main set with “Thank you for coming out to see Cheap Trick tonight, we appreciate it. Maybe we’ll see you next summer, goodnight everyone”.
The crowd demanded a return, and when he returned to the stage, Rick asked “Do you want to hear some more?” The big cheer gave the answer. “Cheap Trick rules… of course we do… Are you SURE you want to hear some more?” Another big cheer sealed it, as if there was any doubt. The band surprised me (and everyone else too I’m sure) by starting the encore with “Taxman”. As Rick said afterwards, “We haven’t done that one in awhile. Anyone feel like singing along? Mr Robin Zander…” Our favourite lead singer started “Voices”, which indeed featured some strong Dutch singing along. That was followed by “Dream Police” and “Goodnight Now” with 3 endings. Rick thanked the crowd, “… see you next year” and the band were off stage to enjoy a well deserved cool down. The venue was like a sauna, but no one had been disappointed by the high energy show. The show finished at 11:09pm. Oh, and before leaving the stage, Rick handed German fan Kai his 5 neck guitar. No sooner had that been retrieved by Rick’s tech than Robin handed Kai his guitar. And after that got retrieved, Kai got Tom’s bass! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one person get handed all 3 guitars at the end of a show! Good job for Kai that Daxx didn’t try to hand off his drumkit too…!
Jorn and I hung outside for awhile with other fans, watching the waiting crowd jostle for autographs and pictures as the band left the building. After saying various goodbyes in the damp, late evening air, we left Uden around midnight or so. We had a 2 hour drive to Jorn’s home near Osnabruck in Germany, and after a short refreshment & comfort break en route, we reached his lovely house at 2.30am. I had the honour of sleeping in the guest room with Jorn’s guitars hung on the walls around me! Very cool! To bed at 3am, gute nacht!
After such a late night I was happy to sleep in to 10am. Jorn and his wife, Britta prepared a wonderful, German style breakfast of eggs, cold meats, breads, sweet pastries… which was a wonderful start to what would be another long day. It was mild and overcast, but soon started raining. We did get out in the afternoon for a short walk around a pleasant, nearby lake, before needing to get back. Jorn and Britta are both part of a hard working show-band, and tonight they had a gig to play, one of 3 or 4 they play each week in the summer months. They’d kindly invited me to come along as an honoured guest, and I was looking forward to seeing SMILE perform.
I met the rest of the band at the venue some 30 minutes drive away. Whilst the show was booked by the club in this village, it was clear that this was a very big night socially for everyone here. I soon learned that the German people know how to party hard! Everyone in the band made me feel very welcome, and everyone spoke varying degrees of English, which reminded me of how lazy we English are about languages. I regaled them with the whole of my German vocabulary – “Ja”… “Nein” (didn’t use this a lot!)… “Das is sehr gut” (generally a safe, all-encompassing phrase)… as well as the very important and specialist “Wo ist sie in der nahe eine bierkeller bitte”. Never, I repeat NEVER go to Germany without being armed with this vital phrase!! Before the show got going, we ate Schnitzel, drank beer, and even had some schnapps! Sehr gut!
The line up of SMILE tonight was comprised of Jorn on bass, Britta on vocals, Alex on guitar (in a CT 2010 UK tour t-shirt!), Kuwe on drums (he’d come to Dublin a few days earlier with Jorn), Tjark on keyboards, and Flow sharing lead vocals.
I can’t give you a setlist as they played from 9.30pm through to 4.20am with only 4 short breaks. They opened with some traditional German songs for the older members of the crowd, then played covers of both German and English language hits. They were amazing. They must have performed for at least 5 ½ hours, and they captured and energized the mostly younger crowd. From maybe 10:30pm through to the end, they probably played to at least 1,000 if not more, and had the crowd really dancing along for every minute, no exaggeration. I flagged from maybe 2.30am, but the band (and crowd) just kept going until they were scheduled to end after 4am. I think the young crowd could have kept going… It was a privilege to witness such a hard working, and talented band, and they do this several times a week. Their (German language) website can be found here - http://www.smile-showband.de/
Anyway, we left the tented venue at 4.45am, and I got to bed at 5.45am. Weird to have left in the light early yesterday evening, and got back to go to bed in the light this morning! Where did the night go?
Awake and up by 1pm. I didn’t feel bad despite the ultra-late night, though I was pretty tired. We had pizza for lunch before Jorn and I left at 2:40pm to pick up Alex and two other friends who were coming up to Hamburg. It was raining hard, which wasn’t good, but hopefully it would be less wet 150 miles north at tonight’s venue. We reached the Stadtpark in Hamburg at 6.10pm, and had a rush to get in with Cheap Trick due on stage at 6.45pm (though the tickets misled us by stating 7pm). The rain had let up, though there were still grey, threatening clouds above, and it was pretty cool too.
The venue was picturesque, and would have been even nicer in better weather. It was a small, natural amphitheatre in the park, surrounded by both a tall hedge and taller trees. It could probably hold a maximum of 1500 squeezed in, though the crowd was probably only a third of that when we got in. No doubt the rain and muddy conditions had put some people off. The brick stage was wide, well covered and deep. In front was a grassy area leading down to the security barrier, so quite a gap between performers and crowd.
Cheap Trick were on early and had a maximum of 55-60 minutes to play, as they were opening at this (and tomorrow night show in Dresden) for the legendary Jeff Beck. The audio montage started at 6.41pm with the band taking to the stage at 6.43pm. Almost immediately the heavy rain started again, and unfortunately it rained on and off throughout Cheap Trick’s set.
RN – black suit,
& white Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Hello There, Big Eyes, California Man, Ain’t That a Shame, Baby Loves to Rock, Magical Mystery Tour, IWYTWM, Flame, Need Your Love, Sick Man of Europe, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight Now.
The band performed well despite the frequent spells of heavy rain, blown towards the stage by a gusting wind. The crowd was warm but not overwhelming towards CT, perhaps because of the rain, and perhaps because Cheap Trick were something of a contrast to the headliner. The style of this set was similar to the set at the Download Festival, where every minute was important and so Rick really cut down on his stage banter. The setlist is pretty self explanatory. After “Baby Loves to Rock”, Rick said “Thank you Hamburg. If you’re not sure, we are Cheap Trick”, and after “IWYTWM”, he thanked the crowd for having Cheap Trick in Hamburg, and briefly introduced the band. He finished by saying “It’s an honour to be on the same stage as Jeff Beck, he’s number one”. That was no throwaway comment, it’s been long documented how much Cheap Trick (and Rick in particular) are fans of Jeff Beck. Robin sounded hoarse during “The Flame” and didn’t try for the long note. After “Surrender” there was a short band meeting on stage”, after which Rick said “We’ve got time for one more, thank you”. That one became two, as they played “Auf Wiedersehen” and then closed with “Goodnight Now” with 3 endings. Before leaving the stage, Rick said “Thank you very much, we’re Cheap Trick, we’ll see you around”. The show ended at 7.38pm, and the crowd had visibly swelled during the bands set. Hopefully some new fans were made.
During the show Rick did try to bridge the grassy gap between stage and crowd, venturing down 3-4 times to throw picks, and even posed briefly mid-set with a security guard off in front of the left side of the stage.
Jeff Beck came on at around 8.15pm or so, and it was cool to see all of Cheap Trick plus many of their crew watch the master at work. He played technically brilliant guitar, making even the most difficult seem effortless. Somewhat odd though was having planes pass by every few minutes as they approached the nearby airport. However, not a single drop of rain fell during the guitar god’s set.
The 5 of us left Hamburg at 10pm, getting back to Osnabruck around 1am for yet another obligatory rock & roll late night!
Ah, Monday came around too soon, and this was the end of my tour. After another wonderful breakfast, Jorn kindly drove me to Osnabruck railway station, where I was in good time to catch my pre-booked 9.55am train to Amsterdam Schiphol. The morning started grey, damp and overcast, but gradually brightened up as I passed through western Germany into the Netherlands. Oh, I spotted lots and lots of bicycles parked at Dutch railway stations en-route, and I think the Dutch must rival the Chinese for bike riding. I think I saw more bikes parked in Holland than I saw in Beijing a couple of months ago.
I got to Schiphol Airport at 1:05pm, easily caught my 4.30pm flight back to Leeds/Bradford, landing at 4.30pm UK time (1 hour behind Holland). I crawled in rush hour traffic but got home at 5.30pm.
Meanwhile, Cheap Trick were playing in Dresden in eastern Germany tonight (too awkward for me to have got to). Again this was a support slot for Jeff Beck, and their set was - Hello There, Big Eyes, House is Rockin’, Magical Mystery Tour, IWYTWM, On Top of the World, Baby Loves to Rock, Flame, Sick Man of Europe, Closer, Surrender, Dream Police, Gonna Raise Hell.
Tuesday was to be a
catching-up day for me – of e-mail, of laundry, of chores, and of sleep! It had
been a memorable 9 day, 5 show tour for me, but it was time to get back to real
life. In particular, I needed to chase up two job possibilities that had arisen
shortly before I’d started on the tour. Early in the afternoon it sounded like
one job possibility might be successful… which made my mind start wondering if
perhaps the Lisbon show tomorrow night *might* be possible to get to. I started
looking at last minute flight and hotel possibilities, and late in the afternoon
the work contract was agreed, to start next week. That left me free to go to
Lisbon, if I could find affordable flights and accommodation. Flying from
Leeds/Bradford or Manchester were not financially viable, far too expensive. But
there were several flight possibilities from London Heathrow (200 miles south of
Leeds), and I eventually chose an affordable flight/hotel combo on Expedia.
However… I booked this at about 7pm, and my flight from Heathrow was scheduled
to leave at 8.15am. With a 4 hour drive (to allow for road works on the M1
motorway), plus allowing 2 hours for check-in, I’d need to leave home at about
2am. Yikes! So no sleep catch-up for me. With having to fill up with petrol plus
packing, booking last minute airport parking and other chores, I didn’t get to
bed until after 11pm. Oh well, as the late, great Warren Zevon said, I’ll sleep
when I’m dead.
Wed 22 June – Travel to Portugal, Cheap Trick in Lisbon
I had 2 hours in bed, but not two hours of sleep. Perhaps an hour at most. Up at 1.15am and out of the house at 2am. It was dry and mild and dark as I drove south, though I did run into spells of light drizzle. I parked near Heathrow at 5.30am and was at the airport and checked in around 45 minutes later. My TAP (Portuguese Airlines) flight was uneventful, and I did like their imaginative pre-take off animated safety video. Yes, it’s sad to be something of a connoisseur of such things! The plane landed at sunny Lisbon at 10:45am, and here I was on my first visit to Portugal, with not a single word of Portuguese vocabulary to my name. I’d have to rely on the limited translations in the two guide books I’d hurriedly bought in Leeds yesterday evening.
Oh, one odd thing I spotted (caution: boring airport observation coming up). Lisbon had a big terminal with a lot of gates. In fact, it has two terminals. However, my plane from London parked a long way away on the tarmac and we got bussed to the terminal. And there were maybe 15 other planes in sight, from British Airways, Air France, and Portuguese airlines, and all were parked on tarmac. Not a single plane was at a terminal gate. Trust me, as a frequent flyer, that’s pretty rare and weird to see. Annoying too as a passenger not to just walk off the plane and into the terminal.
Anyway, immigration was quick, and thankfully my small suitcase made it onto the carousel too. It was easy to get the pretty cheap Aero Bus towards downtown, and the airport is only 4-5 miles from the centre of Lisbon. I got off at Saldanha, and in high 20’s C sunshine I walked about ¾ mile to my hotel. It was noon and I was earlier than the regular check-in time, but the nice young woman on reception took pity on me and checked me in. Not only that but she gave me a top/7th floor room with a small balcony. Thank you, and I recommend the Turim Alameda hotel! It was great to get to the room and change into fresh clothes.
I was back out at about 12:35pm and found my way to the nearby metro station, just 5 stops/10 minutes from the old town. I bought a bargain 24 hour ticket for under 4 Euro, about US$6, which allowed unlimited rides in that period. I did some walking in the pretty but crowded downtown, but didn’t find the item I was looking for. Oh well. Back at the hotel 3 hours later I showered and changed for the evenings show, my 6th out of the 7 European dates so far.
The entrance to the Coliseu Lisboa was situated in a fairly narrow pedestrian street slightly north of the old town. It had a couple of nice, large Cheap Trick show posters on display. Inside was the impressive circular venue, something like a smaller, darker and slightly faded Royal Albert Hall. The stage was both wide and deep with a high ornate surround. Seating had been removed from the main floor so that was all standing on a dark brown carpet, surrounded by a low, wrought iron railing. All around were 7 rows of steeply banked wooden seating, then two levels of private boxes, and then a top level of standing room. Directly opposite the stage, to the rear of the venue was an ornate box for the most special of guests (like a royal box), and the ceiling was domed. Despite the bright sunshine outside, it was quite gloomy inside, both in décor and light. It did look better later when more lighting was on.
Soundcheck started soon after 5.00pm, the whole band beginning with a bluesy instrumental before playing “Stiff Competition” and “Oh Caroline”. The backline was different than at earlier shows because of the difficult logistics/timescale of trucking from Dresden to Lisbon, with the main backline stopping to Vitoria, Spain. Rick also had considerably less guitars.
A local band played from 9-9.25pm, though I saw little of them. A few local fans met with the band shortly before the show, one giving Robin a small Portuguese flag with the wording “Cheap Trick – We want you in Portugal”, which was hung on Tom’s amps before the show started. The familiar audio montage began at 9.58pm, with Cheap Trick hitting the stage at 10pm.
RN – black suit, black
& white Beatles shirt, DP bow tie
Hello There, California Man, ELO Kiddies, IWYTWM, These Days, 70’s Song, On Top of the World, Ain’t That a shame, House is Rockin’, Voices, Ballad of TV Violence, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Baby Loves to Rock, Flame, Sick Man of Europe, Closer, Surrender // (encore) Downed, Dream Police, Need Your Love, Goodnight Now
The venue wasn’t a sellout, though a healthy crowd was inside. The private box levels and above were closed. When the show started, quite a few people came down from the banked seating to join the crowd standing on the main floor to give a large audience directly in front of the stage.
The show started at a high tempo, with “Hello There” followed by “California Man”, after which Rick briefly greeted the enthusiastic crowd with “Ola Lisbon!” The show continued with “ELO Kiddies” and “IWYTWM”, and already it was clear that the Lisbon audience was one of the most lively and enthusiastic of the tour. The band too seemed to revel in the impressive surroundings. After “IWYTWM”, Rick addressed the crowd, “Yeah! Hello Lisbon! Just in case you’re not sure, we are the one, the only, accept no substitutes, Cheap Trick. Thank you for having us. We’re going to play some from our first… second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth… here’s one from our latest”. The band went into “These Days”.
Rick’s introduction to the next song will be familiar to some readers – “If you watch That 70’s Show, that’s Cheap Trick doing That 70’s Song”. And indeed they then performed “70’s Song”, followed by “On Top of the World” (Robin whistled a little towards the end of it), and "Ain’t That a Shame", which had been a special request from a Portuguese fan. Afterwards, Rick again said a few words, “Yeah! Thank you very much. Cheap Trick in Portugal, huh? It’s only been 20 years or so… 30? 100? Thank you for coming, here’s a rock song”. The band played “House is Rockin” and it was cool to see how much the crowd was getting into the show and creating a real atmosphere.
After “House is Rockin”, Rick introduced the band, adding “We’ve had a request for this next song. It’s the first time we’ve played it on this tour, so please sing along OK? And if you don’t know it, sing it even louder!” The band performed “Voices”, then cranked things up again with “Ballad of TV Violence”, “Never Had a Lot to Lose” and “Baby Loves to Rock”, the latter seeing a very long Rick solo after Robin’s first “More and more” line.
Once more Rick addressed the crowd, “Thank you. What a beautiful venue. Please raise your hand if you were on our plane yesterday…ah, there’s our stewardess, she’s brought her parents. This next song features my favourite lead singer, Robin Zander”. Next up was “The Flame”, no vocal problems for Robin today, so I guess he just had a sore throat in Hamburg a few nights ago. After that, “Sick Man of Europe”, “Closer” and “Surrender”. Robin thanked the crowd, and after the band had left the stage, the crowd started up a loud, football/soccer style “Ole Ole Ole Ole” chant, which went on even after Rick returned to the stage. He finally said “I hope you were taping that. Do you want to hear some more?” You can guess the loud response!
The encore was “Downed”, “Dream Police”, “Need Your Love” and “Goodnight Now” with 4 endings. At the end, Rick said “Yeah! Hope to see you next year”, and the crowd responded immediately with another very loud and enthusiastic “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole” chant. The band looked visibly moved by the crowd reaction, and all lined up on stage to take a bow and applause, something that I’ve rarely seen. The show having finished at 11:40pm.
It was still warm out, despite it almost being midnight. Thankfully the Lisbon metro ran late, so I had no problems getting back to my hotel, and got to bed at 1am.
Well, the tour as such was definitely over for me. The band and crew were heading up to Bilbao today for tomorrow nights final show of the tour, at the Azkena Festival. However, I was staying in Lisbon for another day and a half, to sightsee a city that I’d never visited before. My initial plan had been to fly home today, but then I thought I should take the opportunity to take time and look around since I was here and so I’d booked to stay for two nights.
It was another hot and mercilessly sunny day, reaching at least 30C. I went sightseeing in and around the Baixa, downtown area. There was some great architecture, with cobbled squares, prettily tiled streets, pastel coloured buildings, some buildings fronted in prettily decorated ceramic tiles, statues, grand facades, and the triumphal arch at the end of Rua Augusta. Small cable cars added to the distinctive atmosphere too. I walked up the hill, past the impressive façade of the Se Cathedral, and up to the Castelo de Sao Jorge, which sits high above the city and affords beautiful views over the sweep of terracotta tiled roofs of the city, the river, the Ponte 25 De Abril suspension bridge and the shoreline opposite. As befits its location, Lisbon does have a very cosmopolitan, Southern Europe and semi-tropical feel. It has to be said that some of the buildings were a little shabby, showing their faded beauty, but that only seemed to add to the city’s character.
I later popped into the Hard Rock Café on Avenida Da Liberdade. With seating on two floors, it had an impressive wall with many items, including a Rick guitar and an “At Budokan” LP cover (I couldn’t tell if either was signed). However, the layout of the Café made it impossible to get close to the wall, making clear photo’s difficult. I didn’t eat there, I’ve found HRC’s to have become increasingly expensive these past few years. Instead I had a Portuguese salad and fresh grilled sardines at a nearby café at half the price of a basic HRC burger. The nearby frontage of the Estacao do Rossio station was magnificent, with its double horseshoe entrance. And it was very pretty lit up. There’s also the unusual Elevador de Santa Justa to take you from shopping street level up the hill to the ruins of the Igreja do Carmo church which looms high over the downtown area. There’s lot’s to see. It was after midnight (yet again!) before I got to bed.
More sightseeing after checking out of my hotel. On another hot and sunny morning I went downtown and took a Yellow Bus tour (“Tagus”) which covered the centre and west of the city. Lots of great sights as we drove along tree lined boulevards, including the Basilica da Estrela. However, the main highlights were the magnificent Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (monastery), which was close to both the Torre de Belem (the distinctive, boot shaped tower on the riverbank), and the enormous Padrao dos Descobrimentos monument.
All too soon I had to get back to the hotel (temperature was 33C early in the afternoon), wash myself down and change into travel clothes, and head out with my luggage to catch the Aero Bus back to Lisbon Airport. Again we were bussed to the plane from the terminal, and the flight took off at 6:40pm. Goodbye to beautiful, sunny Lisbon. Forty five minutes into the flight we passed over the north western Spanish coastline, and I waved east, in the direction (a couple of hundred miles away) of the Azkena Rock Festival at Vitoria. Two hours after take off, the plane was flying through low, murky cloud near London, before landing at 9:10pm at wet and miserable Heathrow Airport. Welcome home to English summer! My travels weren’t over yet though, as it was a long walk to get to immigration and then the baggage reclaim in Terminal 1, then wait for the off-airport parking bus to arrive. At 10:10pm I finally left the parking garage, and it was an unpleasant 3 ½ hour drive in persistent rain all the way to Leeds. I got home at 1:45am and went straight to bed!
Around the time I was at London Heathrow, Cheap Trick took to the stage at Azkena to finish their 8-date European tour. Their setlist tonight was - Hello There, California Man, Big Eyes, IWYTWM, These Days, 70’s Song, On Top of the World, Voices, Ballad of TV Violence, Never Had a Lot to Lose, Baby Loves to Rock, Flame, Sick Man of Europe, Surrender // (encore) Gonna Raise Hell, Dream Police, Goodnight Now
It was a busy and amazing two weeks. I was exhausted at the end, but it had been a great experience to go to shows in several different countries, to experience a range of small and large venues, to see the band at a huge festival, and to get to spend time with old friends as well as forge new friendships, not to mention the small matter of that on-stage marriage proposal at Bristol! Despite the occasional challenging logistics, Europe is a fun place to go to concerts, and there are wonderful places to explore. The tour turned out to be so much more than I could have hoped for, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Europe 2011 goes into the memory banks as one of the great tours for me.
By the way... I deliberately haven't used many show pictures here, since most of the pictures I took at the 6 shows I attended can be found on the official website, www.cheaptrick.com - To see those pix, go to the "Pictures" pages there.
First and foremost, thanks to Cheap Trick, Carla, management, production team and crew. A wonderful job as always with the shows. Thanks also for your usual kindness, and also for allowing me to photograph at the six shows for the official website. And special thanks for letting me interrupt the Bristol show! Invaders of the heart indeed! Thanks to Patricia for all her company, for helping me out pre-show at the Bristol and Dublin venues, and for saying “yes”! Many thanks (danke!) to Jorn (and Britta) near Osnabruck for his help and their wonderful hospitality during my weekend in Holland and Germany. And last but definitely not least, thank you to all the friends I met, both old and new at the shows. It was wonderful to see and catch up many old friends, and great to meet new friends at pretty much each show. It sounds clichéd to say, but honestly, meeting people is always so much a part of the Cheap Trick experience!
This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne